Featured Alumni Stories

A Marvel(ous) career influenced by the spirit of SYA

If you have a prized Marvel possession that you particularly love, thank Greg Pan. He is part of the team at Marvel who is constantly trying to get Marvel's famous characters and stories into your home in the form of merchandise. It all started in 2007 when Pan joined Marvel Entertainment as an in-house attorney in the Legal and Business Affairs group. He is the lead legal counsel supporting consumer products, promotional partnerships and themed live entertainment for Marvel Entertainment. Pan took this position after earning a BA from Georgetown University and a JD from The Washington College of Law at American University. His year spent immersed in Chinese culture at SYA in the late 90s, also provided a strong starting point for what has become his dream career.

Pan is heavily involved in all types of licensing contracts and licensee management, and he works to support Marvel's creative services and product development teams on various types of brand and legal issues. In Marvel's merchandising business, Pan frequently works with global companies such as LEGO and Hasbro structuring the terms of Marvel's licensing relationships so that they can turn Marvel's characters into dynamic toys for fans worldwide.

In 2010, Marvel joined the Walt Disney Company and, since then, Pan's role has expanded to help grow Marvel's brand with other divisions in the Disney family — particularly Disney Consumer Products, ABC Television and Disney Parks and Resorts — to ensure that Marvel's characters and stories are prominent and available around the world.

Pan also works within Marvel's themed entertainment business which involves telling Marvel's stories in the form of traveling stunt shows, interactive educational exhibits and state of the art attractions within Disney's theme parks. He's particularly looking forward to 2016, when Marvel's first permanent attraction in a Disney Park, The Iron Man Experience, will open in Disneyland Hong Kong. One of the many perks of being at Marvel gave Pan the opportunity to hang out with actors Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana at the New York Stock Exchange opening bell to promote the 2014 film, Guardians of the Galaxy.

The business of licensing involves taking a familiar property and merging the characters and stories with another product to create something new. This is not dissimilar at all to the process of studying abroad and Pan's passion in this challenge can be traced back to his time with SYA. "SYA created an environment where my existing understanding of the world was constantly challenged and nearly every day I was tested with new experiences in an unfamiliar territory," Pan says. This transition was neither easy nor painless, but he had to learn to step outside of his comfort zone. Over time, Pan began to see that these challenges were an opportunity to gain knowledge and personal experiences. Pan says, "my decision-making process changed and I started making choices to seek new experiences instead of choosing things that were comforting and familiar."

This intrepid mindset has helped Pan try new things and postpone judgment until he gains a better understanding first about a new product, project or idea. When working with other companies to license Marvel's characters on their products, it often requires a willingness to understand their culture and business to figure out how that partnership will succeed. Pan credits SYA not only with his lack of fear of new challenges but also his eagerness to seek them out. "I do not think I would have been allowed the responsibility that I have been given within Marvel without having that spirit," he says. "And I don't think I would be effective in my work without it."